December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Cold blamed for decline in Goodwill donations

Jake Sukel and Amanda Davis sort clothing donations Monday at Goodwill Industries’ retail store on Cooper Foster Park Road in Lorain. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Jake Sukel and Amanda Davis sort clothing donations Monday at Goodwill Industries’ retail store on Cooper Foster Park Road in Lorain. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Donations to Goodwill Industries of Lorain County are down this winter, which Goodwill officials attribute to the severe cold, and say it could impact their jobs programs.

“When you donate to Goodwill, we’re going to use that to create jobs in the community,” said Steve Greenwell, Goodwill CEO and president. “Not just the people we hire, but training people and working to find people who are unemployed work in the community.”

In January 2013, Greenwell said Goodwill had about 7,000 donors at its stores in Avon, Avon Lake, Elyria, Lorain, North Ridgeville, Oberlin and Vermilion. In January of this year, there were about 5,500 donors, a 21 percent decrease.

Greenwell said people are less likely to make donations or shop at the stores when temperatures are in the single digits or below zero. However, 80 percent of services provided by Goodwill come from profits generated by donations.

“We’re hoping to remind people just how important those donations are,” Greenwell said.

Goodwill, which has a $3.9 million annual budget and a combined 160 full- and part-time employees, contracts with local businesses for Goodwill workers to do assembly work in Elyria and Lorain. Janitorial work, packaging and transportation are also provided.

Corey Greenwell sorts through clothing donations at Goodwill Industries.

Corey Greenwell sorts through clothing donations at Goodwill Industries.

Goodwill runs job training classes for ex-convicts three times per month in conjunction with the Lorain County Department of Adult Probation. Work for Success, a 30-hour-per-week, eight-week program involving classroom and on-the-job training at Goodwill sites, helps welfare recipients find work. The program is run in conjunction with Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services.

The Job Club — two-hour classes in which participants prepare resumes and prep for interviews — runs three times per week. The Job Club is free and open to the public without appointments.

Goodwill also runs job fairs in April and October that average about 400 job seekers and dozens of employers. Nearly 10 percent of job fair applicants were hired within two weeks of the fairs, according to Greenwell.

Greenwell and Craig Grugel, Goodwill retail manager, said some people may be reluctant to donate clothing in poor condition, but it is welcomed. While not sold in stores, Goodwill sells it to salvage yards and did about $300,000 in salvage sales last year. Grugel said the recycled goods mean less clothing dumped in landfills, improving the environment.

Greenwell urged people to donate at stores or at boxes that are clearly marked as Goodwill boxes. Greenwell said some for-profit companies place boxes that look similar to Goodwill boxes in the community, decreasing donations.

Goodwill had about 90,000 donors last year. Each donation works out to about four hours’ worth of employment services, Grugel said. Fewer donations also mean fewer sales and less sales tax revenue for Ohio.

“Without the back-door (donations), there really is no front door in this business,” Grugel said. “It really has a snowballing effect.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.